Functional Resume Without Accomplishments

The functional resume I read today makes a common resume writing mistake.  The resume failed to include any quantified accomplishments.  We’ve found in our resume benchmarking studies roughly half of all resumes do not provide any accomplishments. 

Every resume makes claims about the job seeker’s skills and abilities.  For a hiring manager, there is no way to validate the claims on the resume alone.  This forces hiring managers to be very skeptical when reviewing resumes for the first time.  The first step to assess the job seeker’s true capability is to assess specific examples the person’s past performance.  Without providing success stories, your resume will look like everyone else’s, and the hiring manager will have to assume you don’t have a successful track record.  Otherwise, if you didn’t have numerous examples of accomplishment, you would have listed them.

The resume I read today had the following structure:

  • Summary of Qualifications
  • Experience
  • Responsibilities
  • Accomplishments
  • Education

This structure seems like it would be a chronological resume format, but the job seeker used it in a functional format.  What made this a functional format was the content of the sections.  The Experience section was just a job listing, with the employer, job title and dates for each position.  There was nothing describing the jobs.

The Responsibilities section has one paragraph describing some of the roles the job seeker held, but it is so vague there no way to really understand what each job was.  Between the job titles and the responsibilities description, we can make a guess what the scope of responsibility of the job seeker was, but it is only a guess – not something most hiring managers are going to get excited about.

The Accomplishments section should provide the core sales pitch for the job seeker.  Unfortunately, this section doesn’t include any real accomplishments.  The bullets are just descriptions of responsibilities.  Below are a few examples of the bullets from the Accomplishments sections:

  • Ability to read blueprints and use standard measuring equipment.
  • Experience and operation of a Semi Automatic Gundrill (limited).
  • Specialized in component marking and packaging.
  • Attended courses in JIT and SPC, as well as courses for Supervisory Training.

To make a strong impression, you need to show what you did, not just what you were responsible for doing.  There are lots of candidates who have had similar experiences.  The job seeker who will get the job is the one who shows what they did with their responsibility and provides specific details of contributions made.

In a functional resume, it can be tempting to focus on the responsibilities and experiences in different functional areas.  Your experience is important, but this is just the starting point.  If you choose a functional structure, despite the warnings of my previous two articles, make sure you provide specific accomplishments.  These need to show your role, scope of responsibility, actions you took and the specific, quantified results you delivered.  Without all of this detail, the accomplishment will not be as impressive as it could be. 

Often a smaller accomplishment that you can describe briefly while supplying clear detail of the situation is more impressive on a resume than a vague accomplishment with a greater overall impact.  This is usually because the big accomplishments are difficult to explain in sufficient detail for the reader to understand what really happened.  They are better suited to an interview where you can take two or three minutes to describe the accomplishment in detail.